On hating (and trying to love) my period

Periods. Ah periods. Rarely a month goes by when I don’t dread its arrival. And I’m pretty sure that most women (and some men) feel the same as I do. I grew up thinking it would be like the adverts on TV but while I don’t skydive when it’s my time of the month I have been programmed to have a fixed smile (more of a grimace) on my face and tell no one what’s happening.

The silence around women’s reproductive health and issues is deafening; I wanted to write this post so that you hopefully feel more confident talking about your own cycles. The thing is I don’t think my period is the perfect time to reflect, or my body naturally detoxing, or the perfect time to eat a month’s worth of chocolate. Firstly I’m in too much pain to reflect, secondly my liver detoxes me every day just fine without my vagina jumping in, and thirdly I don’t need to be bleeding to eat chocolate. Nothing I write about in this post is stuff like that. It’s what I actually do and how I actually feel every month.

Before I go any further please know that I have tried to not use use cis-gendered pronouns in this post. It is not my goal to alienate anyone who reads this and if I do cause offence I am truly sorry. I understand that what is means to be a woman or female is different for everyone. I am also not a doctor nor have I done research into periods or period health. I have also not been sponsored by a feminine hygiene product. This post is all about my experiences.

Initially I wanted to honestly write about what I loved about my periods. but the truth is the hate runs deeper so that list comes first. I had to really think about the love aspect of these. Most of the time this is definitely a hate-hate relationship.

Five thing I hate about my periods

1. The acne. I always know when my periods are about to begin because I new spot appears on my chin. As I write this I am currently on and instead of one, I have two giant spots on the way. Lucky me. The spots I get are large, painful, and itchy. YAY.

2. The cramps. It was much worse when I was younger. Then I would vomit monthly without fail and be unable to keep anything down. Waves of pain would be my only company. Now thankfully there isn’t any nausea. I think even the cramps have lessened slightly. It is still extremely painful.

3. Everything stops. Whether I like it or not, or want it or not, during the first two days of my period everything stops. I can’t move for pain. I certainly can’t work out (unless I have to and sometimes I have races – see below) and concentration at work becomes a lot harder.

4. Leaking. What else can I say about this? Bed sheets, jeans, dresses. Everything. Joyous times. I have been in Kung Fu classes wearing white knowing that any moment now the white is going to be stained with red.

5. The bad mood. It seems to be a given that when someone is on their period they are in a bad mood. Usually people go on about hormones and women and all the stereotypes. But I think sometimes it’s simpler that that. I’m bleeding involuntarily out of a hole in my body and it hurts. Of course I am going to be in a bad mood.

And a bonus hate:

6. I always seem to be on when I have a race. Always. Berlin marathon? Paris marathon? Lululemon Seawheeze half? The Windsor triathlon? The Disneyland Paris Half? What they all have in common is that I was on my period during them all. To date I haven’t cancelled a race but normal non-race runs? Of course. As well as meeting up with friends or anything that involved leaving the house.

Five thing I hate about my periods

To be completely honest I don’t know of love is the right word for any of these things but I am trying to embrace the good! Maybe ‘healthy respect’ is better than love?!

1. Everything is OK. I am so, so lucky to have regular periods. I know almost to the day every month when it’ll come. I know which days, and even which times of days will be the most painful. Having regular periods means that so much of what’s happening inside is working well. As I said, I am not a doctor so I don’t know all the details but I do feel a slightly bit of relief when my periods start. (Very slight.)

2. Everything stops. Above it was a negative but it is also a massive positive. I stop and sit, cradle a hot water bottle and watch a lot of TV. It’s actually really lovely. I also don’t do any chores. Which is always lovely.

3. It is something I have in common with a lot of people. I used to find talking about my periods terribly embarrassing (possibly also because I am British) but the older I get the more I am happy to talk about it. And it’s something I have in common with so many people. I remember when my mum explained to me what they were and I though ‘fuck this shit, I have to wear a nappy when I’m older too?’. Not really but you get the idea! I understand so much when someone else says to me that they are on their period.

4. It reminds me that I am strong. I have done so much on my period. So much. If I can race and live through that pain every month then I can do a lot. If I can just live through the pain it means I can do a lot.

5 Intimate relationship of how your body works. Every month you get up close and personal with how your body works and how it all fits in together.

And a bonus love:

6. I have some amazing stories to tell! Handling all the crap periods bring is made infinitely better by being able to laugh at all the weirdness. I have so many period stories that make excellent and very funny anecdotes.

This post is my way of trying to combat the shame and stigma associated with periods. As an Indian woman who is (sometimes) a Hindu I am technically excluded from most religious things if I am on my period. It is seen as a stigma that should never be spoken off. Well I don’t agree with that. I’m not at the point where I love it, but I am happy to talk about it and to support other women who also want to talk about it and share their stories.

My period is a pain in the butt but it also makes a lot of people very uncomfortable and that makes it quite powerful. Who know that the monthly massacre in my knickers could be revolutionary?

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